Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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26 Apr 2024

Today in Islamophobia: In India, the BJP-led government is using bulldozers to target and intimidate Muslims, a policy long-used against Palestinians by India’s growing ally, Israel, meanwhile in the US, Palestine Legal has filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) against Columbia University citing “discriminatory treatment of Palestinian students and their allies”, and lawyers for the Department of Defense are asking a judge in the case of Sep. 11 suspect Mustafa al-Hawsawi to rule that prisoners should be held indefinitely regardless of trial outcomes. Our recommended read of the day is by Prem Thakker for The Intercept, on how the Department of Education is probing claims that the school discriminated against Palestinian and Arab students amid Israel’s war on Gaza. This and more below:

United States

“Kill all Arabs”: The Feds Are Investigating UMass Amherst For Anti-Palestinian Bias | Recommended Read

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the University of Massachusetts Amherst in response to a complaint that alleges that the school took months to address the harassment of Palestinian and Arab students. In the previously unreported civil rights complaint, 18 students said that they have “been the target of extreme anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab harassment and discrimination by fellow UMass students, including receiving racial slurs, death threats and in one instance, actually being assaulted.” The result, the students said, was a hostile environment for all Arab and Palestinian students, those perceived to be Palestinian, and their allies on campus. Among the most chilling allegations involves a student yelling “kill all Arabs” at fellow students protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. The complaint, which was filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, charges that despite repeated communication to over a dozen administrators and Title IX officials, the school “was extremely slow to take action” and that its stonewalling exacerbated the hostile environment. The 49-page complaint lays out allegations of harassment going as far back as the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7. The complaint alleges that a student began appearing at Students for Justice in Palestine and other related off-campus protests, “shouting threats such as ‘Kill all Arabs,’ playing a speaker with a recording of the sounds of bombs and other explosions and attempting to ram student protestors with an electric scooter.” read the complete article

Palestine Legal files Title VI civil rights complaint on behalf of four students and SJP following mass arrests

Palestine Legal filed a Title VI civil rights complaint on Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education against Columbia on behalf of four students and Columbia’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the organization announced in a Thursday news release. The complaint centers around “discriminatory treatment of Palestinian students and their allies, including by inviting NYPD officers in riot gear — for the first time in decades — to arrest over a hundred students peacefully protesting Israel’s genocide last week,” according to the release. Title VI states that institutions that receive federal funding cannot discriminate based on race, color, or national origin. The DOE initiated a separate investigation into Columbia in November 2023 to examine potential violations related to antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus. “Palestinian students and their allies are just asking for equal treatment, to be treated the same as any other student,” Radhika Sainath, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, told Spectator. “Right now, Columbia is treating them differently.” read the complete article

Prosecutor Says Sept. 11 Suspects Can Be Held Past War Crimes Sentence

Regardless of the outcome of their someday trial, the men accused of plotting the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, can be held forever as prisoners in the war against terrorism in a form of preventive detention, a military prosecutor told the presiding judge on Wednesday. Defense lawyers were asking the judge to rule that, if convicted, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, one of the suspects in plotting the attack, would have any sentence to a term of confinement reduced by the number of days he was held by the United States before trial. He has been held since 2003. The argument, in a pretrial hearing in the decade-old Sept. 11 case, was the latest installment over a long-running, unresolved question of whether a prisoner, once he completes a war crimes sentence, is entitled to release from military detention. read the complete article


Hindu Nationalists Are Taking Notes—and Tech Support—From the Israeli Right

It wasn’t the first time that a state led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — the far-right Hindu nationalist party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — has targeted Muslim communities with what local activists call “bulldozer justice.” Since 2020, similar BJP “anti-encroachment drives” have been carried out in four other Indian states and Delhi. A February report by Amnesty International concludes that evictions used to target Muslim-owned properties have “become a de facto state policy,” “hailed and celebrated” by the BJP. Over the same period, bulldozers have become a potent symbol of Hindu nationalism. BJP rallies feature bulldozer imagery, bulldozer-themed pop songs, even pictures of bulldozers on snack packaging. In 2022, an Indian Independence Day parade in New Jersey featured a wheel loader decorated with pictures of Modi and one of his key supporters, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, nicknamed “Bulldozer Baba” for his aggressive eviction campaigns. If this imagery seems reminiscent of Israel’s dynamics with Palestine, it should. In 2020 and 2021, roughly 120 Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank village of Khirbet Humsah were demolished to make room for Israeli settlements — plowed down by the same bright yellow JCB bulldozers that leveled Begum’s home. Multiple human rights groups have accused JCB of failing to prevent its machinery from being used in human rights violations in Israel/Palestine and India. But the similarities go far beyond that. The two countries are led by kindred ethnonationalist ideologies — Zionism, today dedicated to creating an explicitly Jewish state in Israel, and Hindutva, which seeks to build an exclusively Hindu nation in India. They also share a parallel history dating back to the end of British colonialism, when the British Empire shaped the initial borders of both countries upon their founding — India in 1947, Israel in 1948 — causing the violent partition of land along ethnic and religious lines and collectively displacing millions. For nearly a century, concerted efforts have been made to model Hindutva on Zionism, with deliberate alliances made. Today, the countries are among each other’s closest allies, with numerous trade agreements, shared weaponry and technology for border enforcement and a common ideology of state-sponsored violence against marginalized parts of their populations. read the complete article

The long shadow of US and UK torture in the Middle East

The US and UK’s complicity in torture and detention practices has once again come under the spotlight amid revelations of the systematic abuses and preventable deaths of detainees in northeast Syria. According to Amnesty International, “the US government has played a central role in the creation and maintenance of this system,” while it is also funded, to a lesser extent, by the UK. These revelations reflect how the failure to address past violations in the ‘war on terror’ - notably during heightened attention on abuses in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison - has enabled US-backed torture practices to re-emerge. “The northeast Syria detention camps increasingly look like a new Guantanamo on an enormous scale, where tens of thousands of men, women and children are indefinitely detained without charge,” Maya Foa, Joint Executive Director of Reprieve, told The New Arab. “Here we see the long shadow of the ‘war on terror’ era: the normalisation of indefinite detention and torture, justified in the name of “national security”, when in fact these practices serve neither security nor justice.” Indeed, these camps have become notorious for their brutal and dehumanising conditions. Torture methods in these sites reportedly include severe beatings, stress positions, and electric shocks. Such measures are not isolated incidents but part of a broader, systemic practice of cruelty. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 26 Apr 2024 Edition


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